Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 8:53 PM on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's time to join 'moop' patrol


At Burning Man, the annual celebration of art in Black Rock Desert, Nev., participants pay special attention to picking up trash — what they call "moop," for "material out of place." Along with the call of sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans on Beluga Lake and that pair of bald eagles in the nest by the stoplight, we saw another sure sign of spring this week: a woman with a big yellow bag picking up trash by the Homer News on Lakeshore Drive.

All day Saturday, it's cleanup day in Homer. Stop by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and pick up bags. Fill them with moop, bring them back, and you could win prizes. Cleanup Day is an annual tradition all over Alaska when the snow melts and ugly trash pops up. In tourist towns like Homer, we pay special attention to making our city sparkle. In a week it will be the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival when thousands of bird lovers swoop in. We can't have a plastic bag cluttering up Mud Bay.

Cleanup Day shouldn't be a one-day event, though. Moop patrol can go on all year. It starts with paying attention to trash. First, of course, reduce. Take reusable shopping bags to the store. Recycle everything you can. Cover that load on the way to the dump and close the lid on public Dumpsters. Pick up pop cans and wrappers if you have a picnic on the beach. You know the drill.

While it's great to take a day off to join an organized civic effort, why not take a small trash bag with you whenever you're walking on our trails and on the beach? Even if you pick up one sandwich wrapper, one pop can and one plastic bottle, that's one less bit of moop.

Sprucing up town means more than picking up trash, though. Hats off to the businesses that have already swept up parking lots. A big shout-out goes to those places that in this challenging economy have started remodeling projects. It's a sign of hope to see new businesses opening and old businesses putting up new facades. That's also good business, period.

As Small Business Development Center regional director Bryan Zak said at Tuesday's chamber of commerce luncheon in praising Lynda Reed's new Homer Art & Frame store and the NOMAR remodel, "Small businesses have figured out that what works is giving back to the community." Zak, also a Homer City Council member, said that businesses can give back by making the town look better.

Sweep up, clean up and spruce up. It's time to make Homer shine in big ways and small. Join the moop patrol.